Five-Dangers-of-Unaligned-Small-Groups

The first time I encountered this issue was in a church consultation nearly twenty years ago. I asked the pastor to tell me what was being taught in the church’s small groups. He seemed to be nonplused in his response: “I have no idea.”  I was taken aback.

I tried a different approach. “Tell me,” I said, “how the church decides what will be taught in the small groups.” Again, I was unprepared for his response: “The church leaders have no input into what small groups teach,” he said. “We let every class decide on its own. We don’t want to be like dictators telling them what they have to do. They decide according to what’s best in their own eyes.”

So, I continued, “I guess you let anybody teach or preach anything from the pulpit on Sunday mornings?”

“Of course not,” he said with some indignation. “We are very strict about the Sunday morning preaching. If I’m not teaching, then we have someone who is closely aligned to where we are going and what we believe.”

He did not get my attempt to connect the approach of the small groups with that of the Sunday morning teaching and preaching. How can you be so concerned about one and so nonchalant about the other?

Over the years I have been surprised to find out how many church leaders have a laissez faire attitude about what is being taught in small groups and Sunday school classes. Allow me to share five dangers of this “anything goes” approach.

  1. Because preaching is held to a higher standard, the perception becomes that the small group teaching is just not that important. The reality is that most small groups or Sunday school classes spend more time in their groups than the time they take to listen to a sermon.
  2. The vision of the church could be distracted or derailed. When the preaching and small group teaching are not aligned, the small groups can become alternative little churches with their own vision and priorities. Unfortunately, I have seen this reality a number of times.
  3. It opens the door for heretical teaching. I know of one church that gave no thought to the content of the teaching in the small groups. They would soon discover that one group was studying a book that denied the deity of Christ.
  4. It takes away from the unity of the church. The preaching is headed in one direction. The small group teaching is headed in another direction, or multiple directions. There is no unity in what the church is learning or how the members are growing spiritually.
  5. It does not allow for strategic teaching. Indeed, the contrary may be true. The teaching in the small groups can negate the strategic intent of the preaching plan of the pastor.

Leaders in churches need not be autocratic in their desire to get small group teaching aligned with the ministry of the church. It can and should be a mutually agreed upon goal to move people toward greater maturity in Christ with clear and known material.

Indeed many churches are now moving to a uniform curriculum across all ages in all small groups and Sunday school classes. I see this development as a healthy trend. The leaders are making a statement that what is taught in every group is vitally important for the spiritual health of the members and for the church as a whole.

How does your church decide what is taught in its small groups or Sunday school classes? How would you evaluate its effectiveness?

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Comments

  1. says

    Dr. Rainer, you are right on with this one. I too have seen a significant number of pastors who take a lassez-faire approach to small groups and Sunday school classes choosing their own material. Alignment is one of the most important issues in a healthy church that is often overlooked.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thanks Tom. This issue may be one of the biggest dangers overlooked in the American churches today. That’s a big statement, but I’ve seen it too many times.

  2. says

    Good morning, Thom.

    We have a church elder whose provides oversight for our small group ministry. When we (the staff) met with him originally on this matter (upon the occasion of our church “launch”), we decided that there were two ways we could approach this very issue. We could either have small group leaders share titles of potential studies with us for approval. Or we could provide them with a fairly exhaustive list of pre-approved titles (with many Rainer pieces, by the way) from which to choose. We still review titles of studies not on the list and have yet to “disqualify” any. This method has served us well.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Tony –

      That is an excellent method of accountability. I commend your church for it. Do you have a process to get all the groups aligned on a particular study if the church needs to head in a certain direction for a season?

      • says

        Yes, Thom. When we launched we asked all of our groups to begin with “Radical”. We’ve since asked all of our groups to study “Crazy Love” at some point. And we are currently encouraging all of our groups to study “I Am a Church Member” at the conclusion of their current study. When I first picked up your latest writing, I couldn’t help but to be blown away by how much it lines up with our annual membership covenant. As soon as we saw the table of contents, we KNEW we had to study this book!

  3. John says

    As a new pastor I experienced a situation where the mindset was that the pastor wasn’t supposed to be involved in these decisions. It led to a very tumultuous first year of ministry and near resignation at one point. I had one person in particular that started a “purity” class for a select group of girls and then was surprised I would be bothered by not being told about it until it was halfway through the 10 weeks. They also acted insulted that I would dare question their motives for doing something that the church had no oversight on. Trying to get some of them to understand what you have in this article has been the largest challenge in my ministry so far. It’s been frustrating, mind-numbing, and outright depressing at times.

    • Thom Rainer says

      John –

      Moving small groups toward alignment is one of the many change agent issues a pastor faces. In such cases, especially if you’re a new pastor, I recommend you get a trusted member in the church to lead such efforts. It takes a while before a new pastor earns the trust of the congregation.

      Blessings friend.

  4. says

    sooooo true. this is really what is happening to todays church. reading the book “I am a church member” woke me up to some things I need to get right. thanks mr Thom for such a good reader.

  5. says

    I love this Blog. It always hits the hard issues head on.

    This is right on and I have seen it many times. When discussing this problem with church leaders over the past few years, many quickly acknowledge that there is a problem, but that they do not know where to start with the remedy. They cite vested “gatekeepers” who stand in their way and actively oppose change, among other roadblocks.

    About five years ago I was involved in a small group effort that launched nearly fifty groups simultaneously. Leadership was thrilled to see hundreds of people engaged in this ministry. Unfortunately, we gave little to no thought of materials or support for the groups. After a very short time, they simply starved to death or wandered their own path. It was an enormous blunder. We had “weird science” being taught in some groups. Many groups became social gatherings that left the church together. The breadth of the issues caused by our inconsistency in teaching could never be covered here.

    The lessons we learned included all of dangers Dr. Thom included in this article, but also the following:

    – Train the group leaders and pour into them often
    – Any group without a missional purpose or “outward” focus will die off
    – The people are eagerly waiting for leadership to guide them, but they won’t wait forever
    – Consistent teaching throughout all of the people groups is what creates the church culture and ensures all of the groups are aligned with the vision and direction of the church
    – When you fail at launching or supporting groups, people are turned off and unlikely to try again for a very long time
    – There are very few reliable “starters” and leaders, but they can be trained with some effort

    Thankfully, there is plenty of grace, mercy and opportunity. We can run at it again and again, so don’t give up!

    • Thom Rainer says

      Jonathon –

      Outstanding advice. Your input is worthy of its own blog post. Thank you for your transparency and letting us learn from your mistakes.

  6. Jim Fletcher says

    Regarding points 2-5: what if the teaching/vision of the church leadership/pastor is flawed, and the small group discovers this and acts as a correction to heretical teaching? In other words, have you encountered situations where the reverse of your premise is true and it is the small group that discerns a needed course correction?

    • Thom Rainer says

      Jim –

      If you have heretical teaching from the pulpit, you have a much bigger problem than small groups can handle. This matter is very serious for the entire congregation.

      • Jim Fletcher says

        Thanks for the reply; I agree with you. What I am concerned with is the “vision” set by the leadership, which can be flawed but not held accountable due to the power leadership behind it. For example, I know many hundreds of examples of churches split-apart by “Purpose-Driven” ideology, and when Sunday school teachers or small study leaders voiced concerns with the pulpit, they were rebuffed and kindly shown the door. The possibility of even addressing concerns is not available, so I suppose I see the reverse damage as being a much larger problem than renegade small group teaching. Today (and I am an almost-lifelong SBC member), I see most of evangelicalism virtually hijacked by group-think.

    • says

      Jim,

      In my humble opinion, the group needs to be certain they are right. They need to search the scriptures for themselves and spend time in prayer about what is on their hearts.

      The Apostle Paul wrote a couple of letters that touch on topics like this. In a nice letter to the church at Thessalonica (Thess 5:12-22), Paul talks about Christian conduct and says we should “examine everything and hold fast the that which is good”. In another letter, (2 Tim 3:16), Paul is instructing young Timothy that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”.

      So, the answer will be found in the scriptures and Jesus Himself provides a path to resolution in Matt 18. Whatever the outcome, any effort to resolve the matter must be approached in love and based entirely on God’s word. Otherwise, division within the body of Christ will be the inevitable result.

      Be blessed. I will be praying for this group, Pastor and church.

      • Jim Fletcher says

        Thank you “both” very much for the replies. Although the last one especially doesn’t address what I brought up regarding Purpose-Driven material. However, I realize this is not the forum for this discussion. Again, thank you.

  7. Matt says

    A big challenge is competing with the proliferation of curriculum and books for high profile pastors/teachers/authors within evangelicalism. So, for instance, this fall when we launch into an Acts sermon series, it’s a challenge to align groups who are more interested in studying the latest book from “name prominent evangelical author here”

      • says

        Our pastoral team provides sermon study guides with questions for small groups and other Bible passages related to Sunday’s sermon for discussion. This is used primarily for small groups meeting during the week. We also have mid-size groups that meet on Sunday mornings (Adult Bible Fellowships) that choose curriculum on their own but under approval of a pastor.

  8. says

    You make some great points, Dr. Rainer. Three observations:

    First, there is great value in alignment, which is why the church-wide campaign strategy (40 Days of Purpose, Pressure Points, etc.) is such a brilliant way to start groups. Alignment allows the senior pastor to say, “In order to get everything possible out of our fall series, I want to challenge all of you to be part of a group that’s using the study that goes along with what I’ll be teaching.” See also, http://www.markhowelllive.com/add-pressure-points-to-your-church-wide-campaign-short-list/

    Second, as JonathanG points out, many churches have launched small groups with a church-wide campaign only to let their newest groups flounder after the launch. Providing a study to do next that is similar in kind to the launching study is one of the two most important keys to sustaining new groups (the other is providing a coach who can walk alongside your new leaders). See also http://www.markhowelllive.com/5-keys-to-sustaining-new-groups/

    Finally, providing a recommended list really does make a big difference. Allowing group leaders to choose from a pre-approved list (and requiring them to submit selections not on the list) can help engage a larger number of adults.

  9. Susan says

    We have the opposite problem. In the sense that we have a prearranged series of topics for the small group but many visiting preachers. Some of them come up with their own ideas for a series when they come every 6 to 8 weeks.

    However, there is also a lot of trust vested in these visiting preachers. For example I was trying to make my mind up whether it was a good idea to stay in that town or move on to get away from someone who was behaving badly. What made it worse was that they were dragging other church members into the situation I asked the Lord for guidance and the following Sunday the text used by a visiting preacher who had never been to that church before was “Remember Lot’s wife flee and don’t look back. ” He had no idea for a long time what effect his words had had on me. It was not the only thing that pointed to moving being a good idea but it was a contributory factor to me leaving that church. The next time I returned to it was at its last ever service some 6 year later. That visiting preacher was also there saying his goodbyes as in the intervening years he had become a trusted friend of the church.

  10. says

    Dr Rainer (and all reading this blog),

    I am posting for the purpose of asking for prayer for Adonai Church.

    We are an eleven year old church sitting in a very rural area in northern Mississippi. We operated off campus small groups in our early years and experienced many of the issues stated in Dr. Rainer’s article and in some of your responses. We actually took the off campus small groups offline about three years back and began on campus Sunday School with unified materials.

    We are at the point of bringing off campus groups (Life Groups) back online again. We have already started providing Life Coach (small group facilitators) training and will continue to do so throughout the life of this ministry. Next month we are kicking off a church wide campaign, 30 Day Church Challenge (Outreach Inc.), which will include an emphasis on off campus small groups.

    We are excited at the opportunity to grow the church in her maturity and at the same time grow her ability to impact and influence our community by taking the grace and gospel of Christ outside our walls. Please pray that while we seek to be diligent under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to hopefully foresee and prevent any repeated distractions or deviations from God moving His church forward through this ministry, that at the same time we do not,out of a spirit of fear or misjudgment of motives and goals based solely on previous experience, quench or hinder those whom God brings onboard this time.

    I believe every ministry and activity a church carries out either impedes or empowers that church in living out God’s mission and vision for that local church. Our desire is to edify the church and evangelize the community through these small groups. Please pray we are faithful to not only do ‘what’ God has called us to, but that we are also faithful in doing it ‘how’ God has called us to accomplish this task.

    Thanks for your time and prayers guys!
    Roger

  11. says

    I’ve served as a Minister of Education and now I’m a Senior Pastor. I developed a SS curriculum policy when I served as a ME to avoid this very issue. I had one teacher who thought all he needed was a King James Bible and Matthew Henry’s commentary. Some people wanted to jump from one topical series to the next (marriage, raising kids, etc. . .). I had to give reasons for the policy like you did above instead of implementing the policy with no rationale. My policy said any type of LifeWay curriculum could be used and I shared LifeWay’s commitments when it came to curriculum. I even told teachers that they could take the lesson text and develop their own outline and teaching plan if they wanted. The majority of people were on board but I got one resignation threat. I just sat back and watched and it eventually worked out. I’m shocked at the Pastors who don’t know what’s going on in their SS classes. SS/small groups should be an extension of the pulpit ministry of the church.

  12. says

    So…. as long as we are all using Lifeway “CURRICULUM” is used you are AOK? I see where this is going… do whatever is safe… dont taste dont touch…
    “My policy said any type of LifeWay curriculum could be used and I shared LifeWay’s commitments when it came to curriculum.”

    • Thom Rainer says

      Mr. Smog –

      You are right. I would recommend LifeWay curriculum. But there are many other great resources available if you choose not to use LifeWay. I am grateful for these other curriculum and resource providers. They do a great service for the Kingdom.

  13. kris says

    We are about to get a new Pastor and we are all excited! Even before he arrives he has assigned reading to get all ready for the changes our church so needs. “The Simple Church” is a breath of fresh air in a church that has no vision and much congestion! Thank you for providing the time, the research and the clarity of vision! I can hardly wait to get started!

  14. Chris Russell says

    This is something that is very important to me. We are in the process of starting small groups for the first time at the church I serve as pastor at. I not only want to make sure that the content goes along directly with the sermons but I am also taking the time to lead the first group for a year in order to set the tone and atmosphere for what these groups should look like.

    We are also beginning to move in the direction of having all classes go over the same material that goes along with the sermon so that parents have a better opportunity of engaging their children and talking with them about God and they can grow together.

  15. Heartspeak says

    Ahhh… small groups! I am passionate about them and have led them, trained leaders and overseen groups of small groups. I fully understand the challenges involved and the importance of alignment. I’ve been evolving in my convictions regarding how they can accomplish the many tasks and goals that so many churches try to place on their own small groups.

    First, I believe that unless we view small group leaders as essentially elder/shepherds, we end up with a variety of the ills we’ve all seen (not that it will totally eliminate them either since we are all but mere humans). Viewing SG leaders this way, immediately causes us to be careful with both who we select and how we select them. Many churches launch great small group campaigns but lack the ‘leaders’ for them and punt by just asking for facilitators or hosts. Ask for a host and you will get a host, but not necessarily a sound leader. I’ve observed that it’s better to have fewer groups with great shepherd leaders than to have many with inadequately screened, prepared leaders since once folks have a ‘bad’ experience, they will most often not try again, especially when there’s no guarantee that the next group they try will have a better leader.

    If the senior church leadership devotes it’s time and energy to these leaders, the message, values and vision of the local body will be well passed on throughout the body. Remember II Tim 2:2. Let them, in turn, do the same. It is, after all, the way Jesus trained His disciples and the way Paul did it as well. Training ‘en masse’, as we are so accustomed to doing, has many limitations.

    Common studies/books/guides and pro-scribed, ‘authorized’ material can be good as far as they go but are limiting by their nature. Our job in the church as leaders is to ‘equip’ the saints. Small groups are one of the best ways to do that. However, what one part of the body needs, perhaps, healing and acceptance, may not be what another part of the body needs, say knowledge of the scriptures and doctrine for example. A one size fits all curriculum fits most no one well.

    Roger mentioned Life-Coach training for leaders. The life coaching tenets are very well aligned with successful small group leader methodolgies. I am of the belief that ANYONE acquainted with life coaching principles will find their ability to ‘make disciples’ hugely enhanced. There are many misconceptions regarding life-coaching and many secular variations but a close investigation will reveal many principles that transfer to small groups and small group leaders.

  16. says

    I entered into a new work that had small groups. I was very excited because I assumed that because this was a new church (4yrs old) and not in the traditional paradigm of Sunday School that it was aligned or at least could be easily aligned. Boy was I wrong. Small groups were struggling and one group in particular had a leader that had his own agenda and used his influence to contradict the previous Pastor any chance he could and this group was the source of much grumbling. At least two leaders refused to get on board when I attempted to align our group studies. Spiritualizing the matter they claimed I was hindering the Holy Spirit by “controlling” what was taught and we didn’t need books other than the Bible anyway. This was huge because the new church plant without some cohesiveness would soon be history. No kidding. A 4 year old church that was already a maintenance church is one for the church health guru’s to study and it was not good. The two men led their groups in their own “spirit filled study” in direct contradiction to the will of the church leaders. eventually, these men left and took many people with them, but they were mal-contents just like these men so it wasn’t it a loss, but it was still a struggle to see supposedly “Spirit” filled “mature” men so UNwilling to promote the unity of the church.
    We were ultimately able to get all our groups on board and it pulled the church together. This year the small groups will have their study coordinate with the preaching. I have no doubt that this will take us to a new level of discipleship, unity and missional living. The struggle is going to be worth the reward.

  17. Mahlon Smith says

    Dear Dr. Rainer:

    I have been enjoying your blog since subscribing two weeks ago. You post today was much needed. With the five dangers you mentioned, what five prescriptions would you offer? I gleaned from your post some prescriptions, however I would like an official list.. I would like to share whatever you write with my small group leaders. Thanks

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thanks so much for your kind words Mahlon. I plan to be writing on those issues in the near future.

  18. says

    What I saw happening as the Sunday School director was that we, as a very small rural church, would jump on the chance for anyone that volunteered to teach a class. We gave them very little training. We found that some of our teachers were immature spiritually and didn’t even realize that what they were teaching was not aligned with our church. We ask that they follow the curriculum and the trouble came when they strayed from that. We need to be really careful who we are putting in our classes and not worry that we will hurt the teacher’s feelings if we approach them on what is being taught or even sit in on classes. We need to be more concerned about souls than feelings.

  19. Allan Taylor says

    Great article and advise, Thom. I believe God wants us to study all 66 books of the Bible. Since He is sovereign and omniscient He knew exactly what to put in His written revelation to man. Therefore, we should have a systematic approach in Sunday School to study the whole Bible. Jesus said that man was not to live on bread alone, but on “every word” that proceeds from the mouth of God. This is why our classes are on the Explore the Bible series. It is sad that some people have attended Bible studies for decades and still have not open their Bibles to major portions of Holy Scripture.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thanks so much Allan. You certainly know the world of groups as well as anyone I know. We all appreciate your heart and passion for groups.

  20. James DeLong says

    I attend CBC in San Antonio, Texas. In order to start a LifeGroup, the requesters for the LG are interviewed. Each LG has its own purpose which aligns with the church: “Reach, Teach, and Help” in Jesus’ Name. Some of the LGs meet at the church, others at businesses and restaurants, and still others at homes. The weight of the LG is on “meeting people where they are at”. The sterile environment approach is good, especially for teaching but perhaps not so good for reaching. LGs come and go as do ‘leaders': different seasons in one’s life. Your advice is great Thom. And it aligns well for those who really cry out to serve God. Solid teaching for those striving to serve. Yet there needs to be a place for people to gather and dumb their way through ‘twisted Scripture’ where those who are foolish can be gently turned toward the One who is our finisher. Perhaps these LGs are the answer to scrubbing the flock. Perhaps the real weight needs to be on closely monitoring the leaders of the LGs, not so much in the material, but in their presentations. As the LG leaders make mistakes in Scripture, they are brought back in line by knowledgeable attendees; and, the leader(s) quickly recant what was said or taught. Making sure Scripture is taught and church policies are maintained is the best start to pruning and maintaining the healthiest LGs. The theme of each LG should be kept open so as to gather the most of the flock. Thank you so much for your advice. Life Group Leader and attendee: Jim DeLong

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thanks James. The key is accountability, and your church seems to have that aspect covered. Thanks for your faithfulness.

  21. Jaime says

    I am sorry to have to be the wet blanket here.. after 60 years of church living I know that when you begin this method of running things it is because you probably lack the people skills to move hearts and minds by the biblical method of persuasion alone, and so need to resort to peer pressure to get “FOLLOWERS” of your church teachings..Please allow me to inform you that in each and every case that I have investigated, these type ministries become filled with members every whit as false to God as the preacher is.. People quickly learn and the word gets out that all had better tow the party line, or else.. It has been one of the strongest cords that satan has used to show that the true faith has little to distinguish it from any worldy system administered by anyone of hundreds of megalomaniacs around the world.. the sad consequence of this system is that as it has become more prevalent in the christian nations, we have lost all ability to stand up to the enemies of God.. Why should anyone fight..Between one benevolent dictator and another the only difference is the national costume… Let us pray!!!

    • Joe Rhoads says

      1 Timothy 1:3 “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines…” So, according your standard, neither the apostle Paul nor Timothy had the ability to “move hearts and minds by the biblical method of persuasion alone.” They had to tell these men what to teach and what not to teach, to tow the party line, to use pressure for them to comply, and therefore Paul and Timothy are “false to God.”
      1 Timothy 6:3-4 “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing…” Sounds like Paul has resorted to insults go get people who are teaching false doctrine to “tow the party line.” That sounds like peer pressure.

      • Jaime... says

        as usual the barely scriptural literate has chosen the literal over the spiritual reading… sound doctrine , teaching etc never meant a lock step church.. it meant we had love over all things or charity if you understand it better.. as I said this has done more to kill more churches than all the honest disagreements in christendom between men who love God and their bothers.. something that todays timid, cowering church has never experienced choosing to replace it with the law of mans opinions…and still we will not pray for god’s light…BTW Thank you for ascribing God’s opinions to me.. But I hardly am deserving of such high an honor , yet..

  22. Matt J says

    Just a thought that might be beneficial to some. When you have a small group ministry that is based on the study of books from popular evangelicals, etc. Then you have a curriculum based small group ministry. That sort of defeats the purpose of small groups. (not that those studies are bad) The problem small groups intends to solve is that the church tends to spend most of its time informing the minds of its members and not enough time supporting the emotional, relational, and heart felt needs that all humans have. Small groups plus good practical preaching and mission opportunities where people are taught to serve provides a balanced ministry that is holistic. The more a small group ministry is structured around curriculum the less effective it is at providing that holistic balance. It is sort of a small version of Sunday mornings, a repeat but nothing different. That said, it is impractical to throw out all curriculum, relationships need something to revolve around. That is why so many do a sermon based curriculum. And the best part is its free. Just take the sermon and extend the application portion at the end with 5-7 penetrating questions that lead to accountability, personal group discussion, introspection, etc. Remember the goal is not information but application. Then provide relational elements in the ministry like: Full meals together, meeting in homes, and split the men and women at the end for even smaller group prayer sessions (my groups favorite). Do this every week for 8 weeks and you will see a miracle happen. When we introduced this at our church the first week everybody was skeptical. By week 6 they were mad if we had to cancel one week. I agree 100% with this blog. I just dont see how it’s possible to maintain a longterm successful small group ministry with book studies that are designed to be dropped after 6-8 weeks. Restarting from scratch with a whole other version of “Radical” will eventually lead to people getting used to 8 week burst of excellence that are forgotten by week 9. But sermon based provides the consistency that can be endless in church life. Did mention it’s free…lol

    • Matt J says

      See Sticky Church by Osborne for in depth discussion about small group philosophies. Really great read. thansk for this article Thom.

    • Jaime... says

      Thank you very much Matt.. you’re a man after god’s own heart… you got what I was saying best i guess and said it better than I did.. Perhaps I was not as clear as yourself.. in a small group meeting there shoulkd already be enough doctrine to light the way in that sense.. small groups are designed as they always have been to learn the practicum.. very difficult to do when your yacking all the time about everything so long as you remember to say it in churchy language terms…and you never get to practice doing any of it..like sharing from the heart and bending your back to pitch in helping around the place and growing closer in Love with each other through sweat, blood , and tears..thanks again…

  23. Dan Mullins says

    I was talking to a young lady one day about church and she told me how that she was involved in a small group at her church. I asked her what she was learning and and she laughed and told me that she learned how to drink. She said her group was very social and that she never drank until she started bible study. I thought what a testimony. I thought to contact the pastor but she assured me he was ok with it and it wasn’t a problem, except that she never felt comfortable with the situation. ( I later found out that it was common in most of the small groups in that church. It was baptist by the way.)This is one reason that I know what my small groups are doing, who the leaders are and their dedication to teaching truth and I have approval on all materials that being taught. Some may call me dictatorial but I consider it just being prudent and protecting the church.

  24. Joot says

    An even bigger issue is why church leaders decide to “install” teachers because they “need” someone to “teach” a class (and often, nominating committees are tasked with beating the bushes to find warm bodies that can be “arm-twisted” into agreeing to fill a slot, er, uh,…. teach a class). I’d much rather be in a class being taught by a Godly man who knows God has led him to teach rather than being begged “to serve” by a committee or staff member. In addition, I don’t care if there are 100+ people in the class. (The proper handling and dividing of God’s Word is far more important than restricting the size of a class.) The position of elder was established in the NT church, but for the most part, the contemporary church — and its leadership (unfortunately) — is ignoring the NT scriptures concerning elders, the reason the position was established, the qualifications of elders, the qualifications of teachers, who should be teachers, and the serious responsibilities and risks people bear when they are in the position of a teacher. How often, BEFORE asking someone to teach, does a staff member ask a potential teacher, “Do you understand the seriousness of James 3:1?” In 50 years of church attendance and several teaching stints, I have NEVER been asked that question.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Five Dangers of Unaligned Small Groups – I’ve read plenty about the benefits of making sure your small groups are studying the same topic that’s being presented on Sunday mornings.   Thom Rainer approaches from the other direction, writing about what can happen when you aren’t proactively checking what’s being taught in your church. […]

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